From the late 1800’s to 1996 more than 100,000 aboriginal children attended residential schools in Canada. At a majority of these government operated schools there were reports of emotional, physical, sexual and spiritual abuse along with punishment for cultural activities. Residential schools were implemented to liberate aboriginal people from their savage ways in order for them to survive in the modernizing society.1 To a majority of the current Canadian population, impacts of residential schooling are a part of a distant past, disassociated from today’s events, this misconception. Long lasting impacts as a result of residential schooling include minimal education leading to poverty, stigmatization by the non-aboriginal public, abuses of aboriginal rights in areas such as land and the environment and the growing loss of Indigenous cultures in younger generations. With the continuing misconception of the history and lasting impact of residential schools conflict between Indigenous people and the Canadian Government has not ceased, but increased.
In reflecting on that Wab shared of his father’s experience in the residential school system, information gathered from the text, as well as my own prior knowledge, operated under various religious organizations, in tandem with the Government of Canada, residential schools were one of the methods used to assimilate Aboriginal children into white society (textbook). Tasked with the responsibility to “remove the Indian from the child” such was accomplished through whatever means necessary, whereby come the stories of physical and emotional abuse, in addition placing many children under experiments involving malnutrition (Erin discus). The consequences of such schooling then included, an increased number of generations growing up outside the family environment, these individuals no longer fitting into their Aboriginal communities, yet they are not accepted in
From 1863 to 1996, many Indigenous child were forced to attend residential schools, where they were separated from their families and culture and experienced neglect, abuse and trauma (Bombay, Matheson, & Anisman, 2011, p.367). This essay will explore the history and purpose of residential schools, how it impacted Indigenous children and families at the time of the events, and how to this day it still affects them. Indigenous Residential Schools impacted the First Peoples of Canada physically, mentally and emotionally which resulted in their loss of identity, culture, spirituality, and traditions in the past and present.
Canada as a nation is known to the world for being loving, courteous, and typically very welcoming of all ethnicities. Nevertheless, the treatment of Canada’s Indigenous population over the past decades, appears to suggest otherwise. Indigenous people have been tormented and oppressed by the Canadian society for hundreds of years and remain to live under discrimination resulting in cultural brutality. This, and more, has caused severe negative cultural consequences, psychological and sociological effects. The history of the seclusion of Indigenous people has played a prominent aspect in the development and impact of how Indigenous people are treated and perceived in today’s society. Unfortunately, our history with respect to the treatment of Indigenous communities is not something in which we should take pride in. The Indian Act of 1876 is an excellent model of how the behavior of racial and cultural superiority attributed to the destruction of Indigenous culture and beliefs. The Indian Act established by the Canadian government is a policy of Aboriginal assimilation which compels Indigenous parents under threat of prosecution to integrate their children into Residential Schools. As a nation, we are reminded by past actions that has prompted the weakening of the identity of Indigenous peoples. Residential schools has also contributed to the annihilation of Indigenous culture which was to kill the Indian in the child by isolating them from the influence of their parents and
In the nineteenth century, the government of Canada felt it had an obligation to the nations people to educate the Indigenous population of the country. The federal government sought to pursue this task through the development of residential schools. Under this system, framed by the Davin Report, Congregations of Christian missionaries were responsible for providing compulsory education to Indigenous children within governmentally constructed schools. They were charged with assimilating these children into mainstream culture and convert them into members of “civilized society”. The resulting actions on part of the Canadian government and acting missionaries have caused detrimental psychological and emotional trauma to survivors of these residential schools; trauma that has crossed intergenerational boundaries since the induction of the system. The direct outcomes of the residential school system have resulted in a form of trauma with cross-generational effects among contemporary Indigenous societies, known as historical trauma.
Residential School’s were introduced back in the 1870’s, they were made to change the way native children spoke their languages and how they viewed their cultures. The residential school system in Canada was operated by the government, where the native children were aggressively forced away from their loved ones to participate in these schools (1000 Conversations). The government had a concept, where they can modernize the native children, aged of three to eighteen and extinguish the aboriginal culture. In the twentieth century the Canadian Public School’s had arrived and had improved treatments than residential schools. In Contrast, the treatments within these schools were both different, whereas Canadian public school students had more freedom than residential school students because children were taken away from their families. However, the treatment in these schools were different and some what similar. Even though Residential schools and Canadian Public schools were similar in some form, there were numerous amounts of differences in how the children were taught, how they were treated and how their living conditions were like throughout these schools.
Residential School are an aspect of Canadian history that will haunt our nation. Derived from the Anglican Church, Methodist Church, and Roman Catholic church’s desires to educate and convert the indigenous people of the land. (Miller, 2008) The churches thought that the indigenous people were savages and needed to be assimilated into their beliefs. (Hanson, n.d.) 30% of indigenous children were forced into Residential Schools, 6,000 died while in the care of these boarding schools. (Tasker, 2015). These institutions used methods of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse to sterilized these children such as piercing the tongues of children with needles who dare to speak their native language
When residential schools began the kids were forcibly taken away, leaving the parents at home alone with no one to look after but each other. This became a huge issue within the communities because a huge part of First Nations life and culture is to educate your children, pass on the culture and to take care of them. These parents couldn’t do that, which left them feeling helpless and broken. Children are a huge part of First Nations culture, they are the future of the indigenous culture, if they are taken out of that cultural bubble at a young age and assimilated they will not be able to continue passing on the traditional ways of their ancestors. First Nations children are the future of the Aboriginal culture and its history by taking them away to those residential schools so long ago the churches/government have disrupted the education they would have received from their parents. Patricia Angus-Monture explains that First Nations children are the building blocks for the future of First Nations peoples,
This can be seen most prominently through the forced acceptance of placing many Indigenous children in residential schools. The federal government conducted the residential school system to isolate children from the influences of their families, homes, culture, and traditions, to assimilate them into the dominant culture of the time. Not only was this wrong but, it was legal. In the early twentieth century, compulsory attendance was integrated into the Indian Act. Children received an inferior education and experienced loss of language and culture. In addition, due to their removal from families, Indigenous children were never nurtured in a family environment, which transcended generations of Indigenous families. Moreover, the injustice faced by Indigenous families has been acknowledged by the Canadian government. For instance, in the 1990s the federal government and churches involved with residential schools acknowledged the true purpose of these schools were to "kill the Indian in the child,” according to Stephen Harper, during his formal apology. The Canadian government openly acknowledges the racism that the Indian Act built upon and the damages done by the residential school system in
Knockwood explains the enforcement of residential ideologies as a “combination of physical intimidation and psychological manipulation which produced terror and confusion” (12). The premise of residential schools was to strip Indigenous children from their culture and Indigenous identity, forcing them to only speak English, or face severe consequences. Despite the government and churches best efforts, many Indigenous children still maintained their cultural roots and kept their language while at home. This governmental need for assimilation has had lasting impacts far beyond the scope of active residential schools. Neeganagwedgin notes, “while the schools may be physically closed, the legacy lingers” (34). Beyond this, she urges, present-day institutions still function in a way that continues to undermine and systematically deny, “Indigenous peoples their inherent rights as First Peoples” (Neeganagwedgin 34); such as the justice system, child welfare and the education systems.
Residential schools in Canada were present for over 100 years and were created by the government to eliminate the Indigenous culture. These schools successfully separated families while creating huge cultural barriers between children and their Native culture (COHA, 2011). These children were forcibly removed from their families and taken to residential schools because Canadians saw Indigenous peoples as “backwards” or “savage” (COHA, 2011). They also believed that they were inferior to Natives and that these schools would help “civilize” aboriginals by replacing their Native traits with Western values (COHA, 2011).
First Nation children were forced to attend Indian residential schools dating back to the 1870’s and spanned many decades with the final school closing in 1996. These educational institutions were government funded and church run by Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, United and Anglican denominations (Truth and Reconciliation Commission, n.d.). There were 139 schools where more than 150 000 First Nations children attended. The children of these schools were mentally, physically, emotionally and sexually abused. There were a multitude of accounts of being strapped and needles piercing children’s tongues for speaking their native language. After a sentencing in British Columbia court of a supervisor of a residential school, Supreme Court Justice Hogarth called Arthur Plint a “sexual terrorist” it was also noted that “as far as the victims were concerned, the Indian residential school system was nothing more than institutionalized pedophilia” (First Nations Studies Program, 2009). In 1920 it became mandatory for every Native child to attend a residential school. It was illegal to attend any other main stream educational facility (First Nations Studies Program, 2009). The abuse that the victims suffered during their attendance at the residential school far from concluded at that point. It is evident that it has had an intergenerational effect culturally and psychologically and has caused an incredible loss of family dynamic.
In the Indigenous community, when the community is faced with a trauma, it takes seven generations for the community to heal (Trimble, 2015). People may underestimate how oppressed and how much suffering the Indigenous communities had to struggle with, and continue to struggle with these issues today. We may underestimate how severe the situation is because many of us were not taught much about the impact of colonization on the Indigenous communities in school. There are many myths people may have concerning Indigenous life experiences, particularly schooling. To address these myths, I would begin by giving a brief history of residential schools. I would then analyze how residential schools have impacted the indigenous community and how they continue to affect them today. I would also mention the current issues children on reserves are facing today regarding school. Lastly, I would mention some of the progress that has been made. I will use the work of Sefa Dei to demonstrate the importance of community in education regarding the Indigenous people.
Residential schools were put in place by the Canadian government as a way to “refine” native communities into the broader culture and keep the native children from continuing their heritages’ traditions. In the short, yet powerful video clips shown in Practical Nursing Professional Growth class, our class was confronted with horrific stories told by residential school survivors of what they had encountered while attending. Raymond Mason, Alice Littledeer, and Madeline Dion Stout were all forced to abandon their language, culture and way of life in order to adopt and adapt to European languages such as English or French, new habits, and foreign religious sects. All three of these survivors had awful traumatic experiences such as being forbidden to speak their Aboriginal languages, forced haircuts for boys and girls, sexual assault, physical abuse, and segregation between genders; brothers and sisters were not allowed to be in contact. While watching these videos, I was filled with emotions such as sadness, disgust, and anger towards these schools, all while being completely shocked that I am now just learning about residential schools in college, and how that is absolutely unacceptable, and that every Canadian citizen should be informed about this in history classes in high school; it is imperative.
The current outcome of the Sixties Scoop is still unresolved; it was only in 2010 that a class action suit was brought to the courts in Ontario and 2011 from survivors in British Columbia. Restitution for this is far from over. According to John Beaucage the former Grand Chief of the Union of Ontario Indians, we have now entered a new stage in the assimilation of aboriginals called the “Millennium Scoop”. In his report commissioned by the Ministry Children and Youth Services he states “Although Aboriginal people make up about 2 per cent of the province’s population (2006 Census); we make up a far greater percentage of the children in care (estimates are from 10 to 20 per cent)” (Beaucage, 2011). While this is information is based on one report it does produce viable solutions and a basis for additional research.